MERALCO rode on KJ McDaniel’s superb all-around game to roll back Rain or Shine, 105-87, for a winning start in the PBA Governors Cup at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
McDaniels finished with a double- double of 27 points and 23 rebounds to power the Bolts to an emphatic victory over the Elasto Painters in the opener of the season-ending conference.
Equally impressive was converge FiberX, which overpowered undermanned NorthPort, 122-92.
Seven players, led by comebacking Maverick Ahanmisi and import Ethan Rusbatch, scored in double figures for the FiberXers, who led by as many as 37 points.
Marcus Weathers fin8shed with 37 piibts and 12 rebounds for the Batang pier, who played minus injured top gunners Robert Bolick (hamstring) and Arwind Santos (knee).
McDaniels had plenty of support.
Chris Banchero added 17 points and five assists, while Allein Maliksi contributed 16 points and four rebounds for the Bolts, who are hoping to redeem themselves following a disappointing 10th-place finish in the recent PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Cliff Hodge had eight points and 13 rebounds.
Rey Nambatac led Rain or Shine with 21 points.
Import Michael Qualls, however, was held to only 14 points on a dismal 3-of-22 shooting in nearly 39 minutes.
Qualls also went 0-of-9 from the three-point area.
With Banchero and McDaniels leading the way, the Bolts took a 13-point lead, 81-68, after three quarters.
The Bolts extended the lead to 15 points, 83-68, on a floating jumper by Raymar Jose 14 seconds into the fourth and final period.
Four free throws by James Yap and Gabe Norwood put the E-Painters to within 11 points, 83-72, but lay-ups by McDaniels and Maliksi made it back to 87-72.
McDaniels scored six points in an 8-5 exchange that pegged the score at 95-77 entering the final six minutes.
The lead balooned to 20 points following another layup by McDaniels with 4:09 remaining on an offensive rebound off a miss by Bong Quinto.
Rain or Shine never recoevred from there.
Meanwhile, the PBA begins its heavy five-day a week schedule on Wednesday, Jan. 25 with a regulr doubleheader pitting Blackwater agaunst NLEX at 3 p.m. and TNT against Phoenix Super LPG at 5:45 p.m.
Games will continue on Thursday all the way to Sunday as the league tries to finish the season-ending conference in time for the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia on May.